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Link2Success Empowers Students Through First-Year Core Classes

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JANUARY 16, 2014 – Students, faculty and Learning Enrichment Center administrators at The University of Texas at Brownsville are beginning the spring semester on a high note after hearing the results of the new Link2Success learning enrichment program that was implemented in the fall 2013 semester.

“L2S is based on educational research, and we were certain its outcome would be significant,” said Dr. Leslie Jones, Co-director with Dr. Arlene Ready, of the Leaning Enrichment Center that manages the program. “However, these end-of-semester results are truly remarkable, showing tremendous improvement in passing rates when compared to statistics over the past seven years.”

Initiated at the outset of the fall 2013 semester, the L2S learning enrichment program is designed to help freshmen leap over the hurdles that often result in students’ dropping, withdrawing or failing a course.

Ashley Gutierrez with Link 2 Success helps students with their History classwork on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at the Student Union. Senior and L2S tutor Ashley Gutierrez, a history/social studies education major, works with students in a History 1301 L2S study session during the fall 2013 semester. Paul Chouy / UT Brownsville

“Too often, students are not prepared for the rigorous academic expectations of their freshman year, and they might be easily distracted and fall behind in their courses,” Jones said. “These numbers reflect an improvement over the recent past for such a large number of students – just imagine, L2S impacted approximately 1,500 freshmen.”

The historical stumbling blocks for freshmen are the core courses required of all students, no matter their majors: Composition I and II, History I and II, College Algebra or Contemporary Mathematics. Unlike tutoring, L2S targets courses rather than students; study sessions are built into the course schedules – the tutoring labs typically follow their respective classes. On average, L2S study sessions offer three hours of extra course content-specific, directed study while weaving study strategies and time management tips into the sessions.

Xiomara Hernandez, a freshman from Palmview, Texas, who graduated from Juarez-Lincoln High School in May 2013, thinks she had a solid start to her university studies during her first semester at UTB, and gives some credit to her good grades to L2S.

“I took two classes that required L2S sessions, Pre-calculus and Composition I,” said Hernandez, who plans to major in biomedical sciences and continue on to medical school where she hopes to specialize in oncology. “This was my first experience with tutoring, and I feel the L2S study sessions helped me a lot.”

Tutors sit in on their L2S students’ classes, keeping them up to date with the professors’ lectures; they work with the students to answer questions, explain difficult concepts, reinforce the material and make sure the students are comfortable with the particular lesson and feel at ease with their assignments.

The Learning Enrichment Center has always employed qualified students as tutors; now with L2S, Learning Enrichment employs approximately 145 students, making this an option for campus employment of up to 19 hours per week.

Miranda Savage is among last semester’s first group of L2S tutors. Twenty-two-year-old Savage graduated from high school in Norfolk, Va., came to Brownsville five years ago, and now is in her senior year majoring in psychology, planning to graduate in May.

“At first, students were unreceptive to the mandatory L2S sessions,” Savage said. “However, when quiz scores started coming in, and their grades reflected the effort they were putting into their classes, their attitudes changed dramatically.”

Another pioneer L2S tutor is senior Gerardo Gonzalez, 23, who graduated from high school in Matamoros in 2008. A member of the Texas National Guard, Gonzalez is majoring in mechanical engineering.

“There were three of us tutors working with a college algebra class, a large group of 60-65 students,” Gonzalez said. “We would rotate, going over topics covered in class; we tried to be as accommodating as possible by encouraging the students to email us with questions that might pop up after the session. Also, we posted our learning lab hours – so students could ask for us if they wanted, or they could just walk in and get help from another tutor working in the lab.”

Gonzalez said they also encouraged students to form their own study groups.

“That seems to be a great way for students to learn material – and peer help, just like the peer tutoring that we do – is proven to be effective,” he said. “The ones who understand the material the best are able to reinforce their knowledge, so it’s a win-win situation.”

Regina Lien and Daniel Gonzalez did so well in their classes they qualified to become L2S tutors and are beginning their campus jobs in that capacity, starting this semester.

“I was in L2S sessions for all three of my core classes – College Algebra, History and Composition I – and I feel the support from L2S made a big difference,” Gonzalez said. “I got better grades overall, and especially I was surprised to see my improvement in writing, which I never felt comfortable with in the past.”

Gonzalez, a 2009 graduate of Brownsville’s Pace High School, said he was wasting his time going from one job to the other after high school for four years.

“I realized I needed to get an education and prepare for a career,” 22-year-old Gonzalez said. “Now I plan to major in biomedical sciences.”

Twenty-year-old Regina Lien, who graduated from high school in Taiwan, took two classes with LS2 components last semester: Composition I and College Algebra. Like Gonzalez, she did well and is looking forward to becoming a peer tutor.

“L2S proved itself to me,” said Lien, an education major. “Sometimes you will have a question that pops up during a class, and then you think, ‘Oh, I’ll figure it out on my own,’ and then you realize you really can’t. With L2S, having these sessions that follow the classes, it’s ideal for situations just such as that – since a lot of students are hesitant to ask questions in class, especially when they’re freshmen and new in college.”

For more information on L2S and the Learning Enrichment Center, contact Judy Moreno at 956-882-8208 or


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